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Robinson Butte Serves as Fire Lookout Since 1917

Robinson Butte rises southwest of Mount McLoughlin in Southern Oregon’s Cascades.  It once was part of the summer hunting grounds of the Takelma Indians, but was named for an unspecified early settler. Several Robinsons lived in the 19th century near Little Butte Creek, below Robinson Butte.

A miner named William Robinson settled in the area in the 1850s. He became a cattle rancher and may have driven his herds past the butte to Jacksonville. In the 1880s, Lewis Robinson made his living by hunting lost stock for cattle ranchers along Little Butte Creek.  A third possible candidate for the origin of the butte’s name is Doc Robinson, who lived in the Little Butte Creek drainage.  His nephew mistook him for a deer and shot and killed him in 1884. 

More than a mile high at 5,864 feet, Robinson Butte has been a fire lookout site since at least 1917.  The Oregon Department of Forestry has a 53-foot tower at the site today. Since 2008, a cell phone tower registered to the city of Eagle Point has shared the summit with the fire lookout. 


Sources: Fattig, Paul. "Room with a View." Mail Tribune 18 Aug. 2013 [Medford, OR]. Web. 21 Jan. 2015; LaLande, Jeff. "From Abbot Butte to Zimmerman Burn: A Geographic-Names History and Gazzetter of the Rogue River National Forest ." Southern Oregon Digital Archives. Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, Feb. 2007. Web. 21 Jan. 2014; United States Federal Census, 1880.

Amy Couture has a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Oregon, a master’s in teacher education from Eastern Oregon University, and a master’s in history from Minnesota State University, Mankato.  A former teacher and cross-country coach, she is the author of 14 historical vignettes in the book, Astorians: Eccentric and Extraordinary.